I’m a big fan of gala events – especially when they have a theme or are held in a funky and hip location. But I’m mostly a big fan of gala events when they are tied to an original cause; something that speaks to a segment of the population in a big way. Well, Calgary hit the jackpot (in my opinion) with its recent Black & Red Bash at the Art Gallery of Calgary.
On Thursday, January 31, United Way’s BeCause initiative hosted the second annual Bash and announced a promising lineup of volunteer engagement activities for 2013. Returning favorites include the Urban Exposure Project which enables volunteer photographers to portray social issues through their images, and Why?Race – an event built on The Amazing Race model which introduces volunteer teams of four to United Way funded agencies and programs.
A new addition to the event lineup is a Days of Caring program targeted specifically at individuals in the BeCause demographic (young professionals in their 20s and 30s). Volunteer activities are organized throughout the year and opened to the public for participation. The first of these activities was announced at the Bash: four Saturdays at the Beltline Boys & Girls Club, where volunteers simply arrive and volunteer their time wherever help is needed on that particular day – playing basketball with youth in the gym, helping out in the computer lab, or volunteering some time in the music studio.
The only thing that could have made a gala event like this even better is the addition of an incredible and powerful keynote speaker – which the Bash delivered in the form of Amanda Lindhout. A Canadian journalist, kidnap survivor, Founder & Executive Director of the Global Enrichment Foundation and recently named one of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) Top 100 Most Powerful Women of 2012, Lindhout delivered a powerful speech that appealed to the nearly 200 attendees and addressed the significance of giving back to the world and leaving a positive mark on humanity.
Amidst a sea of black and red ensembles and signature cocktails, the evening ended with a flurry of activity at the Day of Caring signup table and a lineup of volunteers wanting to both ask questions about BeCause and hear more of Amanda’s inspiring story.
—Joe Connors is a BeCause co-chair. Photo of Amanda Lindhout.